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    ARTICLES — Tim Raines: Hall of Famer!

     

    © Rob Soria


    The fact that more people are not calling Tim Raines a clear cut Hall of Fame player tells me not many people actually watched or paid attention to Raines and his illustrious career. Tim, unfortunately for him, played his best years in Montreal and most media decided to ignore him and the Expos in general. Many of the so called experts go on about how Raines’ stats are nothing more than good and that he was never a dominant player. They also go on about him not having a career .300 BA or 3,000 hits and all I can do is shake my head in disbelief. Any one who watched Raines regularly or even semi - regularly during his days in Montreal knows he was possibly the best all round player in the NL during the 80’s. After he went to the White Sox he was a very important part on some very good White Sox teams and a great leader and clutch performer in helping the New York Yankees begin their run of dominance in 1996 thru to 1998.


    Raines is one of those rare players that had a certain skill that was at a very elite level in history of the game. His career stolen base total of 808 ranks him 5th in the history of the game and in all actuality he is really 4th. Billy Hamilton’s total of 912 is higher than Raines but back when Hamilton played a runner was credited with a stolen base if they’d take an extra base on a hit. So, if a runner would go 1st to 3rd on a single he would be credited with a steal (rule was changed in 1898). That leaves 4 players in the history of the game that have stolen 800 or more bases during their career:


    Rickey Henderson – 1406

    Lou Brock - 938

    Ty Cobb – 892

    Tim Raines – 808


    That is an impressive achievement on its own but when you consider their success rates over their individual careers you realize how good Raines was at stealing a bag:


    Rickey Henderson – 80.8 % (CS – 335)

    Lou Brock – 75.3 % (CS – 307)

    Ty Cobb – 80.8 % (CS – 212)*

    Tim Raines – 84.7 % (CS – 146)


    *Cobb’s caught stealing totals are not complete for every year he played so the actual total would be higher


    His stolen base success rate is staggering and everyone knows it was harder to steal a bag in the last 25 + years of ball. The effort that is made to try and stop great baserunners on the bases compared to past generations isn’t even close. This makes both Henderson & Raines’ percentages even more impressive. Also, Raines was always a guy who stole a bag when it meant something to the team. He never tried to steal bases to pad his stats and that goes all the way back to his impressive rookie campaign.




    If you look at Tim’s overall body of work he is right on par with many other Hall of Fame outfielders that played during the last few eras. Yes, he does not have the power numbers but he did have the numbers when it came to scoring runs and getting on base. After all, that was his job, to get on base and score runs. Is that not the job of a leadoff hitter?


    Another aspect of his game that gets overlooked is his defense. He didn’t have a very good throwing arm but he turned himself into a very good outfielder. He was converted from a second baseman in the Expos minor league system and like most second baggers his arm wasn’t very strong. In the outfield his speed let him get to a lot of balls that most outfielders could never reach and he only made 54 errors for his whole career in the outfield. That is a fielding percentage of .987 for his entire career. Take a look below at the other Hall of Fame outfielders that played the majority of their careers over the last 35 or so years and you will see what I mean, be it at bat or in the field.


    *I didn’t include Paul Molitor or Robin Yount since they played a large amount of their careers as infielders and outfielders.



    PA

    H

    2B

    3B

    HR

    RBI

    R

    BB


    Rickey Henderson

    13,346

    3,055

    510

    66

    297

    1,115

    2,295

    2,190



    Lou Brock

    11,235

    3,023

    486

    141

    149

    900

    1,610

    761












    Kirby Puckett

    7,831

    2,304

    414

    57

    207

    1,085

    1,071

    450


    Willie Stargell

    9,026

    2,232

    423

    55

    475

    1,540

    1,195

    937


    Dave Winfield

    12,358

    3,110

    540

    88

    465

    1,833

    1,669

    1,216


    Tony Gwynn

    10,232

    3,141

    543

    85

    135

    1,138

    1,383

    790


    Reggie Jackson

    11,416

    2,584

    463

    49

    563

    1,702

    1,551

    1,375












    Tim Raines

    10,359

    2,605

    430

    113

    170

    980

    1,571

    1,330




                              SB SLG AVG OBP TOB PO A E DP FD%


    Rickey Henderson 1,406 .419 .279 .401 5,343 6,466 131 141 23 .979


    Lou Brock                  938 .410 .293 .343 3,833 4,394 142 196 29 .959


    Kirby Puckett           134 .477 .318 .360 2,810 4,392 142 52 37 .989


    Willie Stargell           17 .529 .282 .360 3,247 1,985 102 84 12 .961


    Dave Winfield          223 .475 .283 .353 4,351 4,975 166 95 35 .982


    Tony Gwynn            319 .459 .338 .388 3,955 4,512 160 62 27 .987


    Reggie Jackson        228 .490 .262 .356 4,055 4,062 133 142 31 .967



    Tim Raines 808 .425 .294 .385 3,977 4,198 134 54 22 .987






    When people compare players that play similar positions that do not seem to always consider what type of player each one was. Most think of the long ball when they think of the outfield position and frankly that is idiotic. Look at the totals above, he is 4th on the list above in Runs and Times on Base and 3rd in On Base Percentage and Walks. Those are the most important things that a leadoff hitter does:


    1) Get on base 2) See Pitches 3) Score Runs


    The guy reached base nearly 4,000 times but all people can talk about is that he doesn’t have 3,000 hits. He could have had more hits if he wasn’t as selective at the plate but would that have been the best thing for his teams? Considering his spot in the batting order, it probably wouldn’t have been. I ask this simple question:


    How are 3,000 hits and 977 walks any different than having 2,605 hits and 1,330 walks?


    It still adds up to 3,977 times on base and as I stated before, one of the important functions of a leadoff hitter is to work counts and see pitches. It makes no sense to me when guys will get into the Hall because “they were a great …..fill in the position” but little consideration seems to go to where a player bats in the batting order.

    A guy like Ryne Sandberg goes into the Hall as “one of the greatest 2nd baseman of all time”, which I would argue, but a guy like Raines can’t seem to get support to go in for being the 2nd best leadoff hitter of all-time and the best in NL history? Compare Ryne Sandberg to Tim Raines on a straight stats comparison and you tell me who has the better totals:



        PA

          H

         2B

         3B

         HR

        RBI 

          R

    Tim Raines

    10,359

    2,605

    430

    113

    170

    980

    1,571

    Ryne Sandberg

    9,282

    2,386

    403

    76

    282

    1,061

    1,318



                             BB SB SLG AVG OBP TOB


    Tim Raines     1,330 808 .425 .294 .385 3,977


    Ryne Sandberg 761 344 .452 .285 .344 3,181



    Don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying Sandberg wasn’t a great ball player he was and he probably should be in the Hall but if he is how would a guy like Raines not get in? The stats are not even close and yes Sandberg was great with his glove but does it make up for the difference you see above? The obvious answer is no but because Sandberg played second base it makes him a no doubt Hall of Famer and I frankly think that is ridiculous. To be honest, was Ryne Sandberg really any better than a guy like Lou Whitaker? Look at their stats, they were basically the same player yet Sandberg is in the Hall and Whitaker was on the ballot one year and received 15 votes….how does that make any sense? Again it doesn’t but because Whitaker had very little fanfare outside of Detroit he was basically ignored when it cam time to Hall of Fame enshrinement.


    The one other item that Raines seems to have going against him is his battle with cocaine during the 1982 season. Tim had a problem during his 2nd full season in Major League Baseball with cocaine. Instead of this being an on going problem throughout his career, like many other players, Raines dealt with this issue that off season and came back a different person and an even better player. He beat his demons and should be applauded for it but instead most media seem to know very little about his career but they all seem to know about him “sliding headfirst when he had cocaine in his back pocket” during the 1982 season. The guy beat his problem and for whatever reason people don’t seem to let it go. Funny, no one really mentioned Paul Molitor and his drug abuse during the same time when he came up for the Hall, yet most people seem to bring it up with Raines. Seems like a double standard and I have no reason as to why that is. Ask almost anyone that was involved with baseball during his career and nearly all of them say that Tim Raines was one of if not the best teammate most of them had. He became a great leader over the years and always played the game the right way, with a smile on his face.


    I did not write this article to down play the achievements of any current Hall of Famers but rather to show how plain it should be to anyone that is familiar with the game of baseball that Tim Raines should be voted into the Hall of Fame. Let us hope enough of the voters are educated enough on his many accomplishments during his career and vote for his inclusion with the other greats of the game in the baseball Hall of Fame.